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Critics reviews
Showgirls
Paul Verhoeven United States, 1995
What once struck me as wan camp I now appreciate as vulgar brio, the film’s sordid Las Vegas milieu of strip clubs and All About Eve–like deceit and machinations a down-and-dirty dissection of this country’s supply-and-demand soul-sickness.
November 08, 2016
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It is the ne plus ultra and culmination of Verhoeven’s cinema, a film that allows us no escape, that finds beneath every skin and layer nothing other than yet more sequins, glitter, ejaculate, and grime. No film takes American mass culture more seriously, or skewers it more dispassionately.
March 15, 2013
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Gleefully inspiring audiences everywhere to challenge conventional definitions of “good” and “bad,” Showgirls is undoubtedly the think-piece object d’art of its time. It is Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas’s audaciously experimental satire-but-not-satire, an epically mounted “white melodrama” (to borrow Tag Gallagher’s term) and also one of the most astringent, least compromised critiques of the Dream Factory ever unleashed on a frustrated, perpetually (and ideologically) pre-cum audience.
June 15, 2010
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Verhoeven is our Frank Tashlin, fronting a mirror on the fin de siècle plastic fantastic by means of hyperreal mise en scène coupled to a luxuriously tawdry imagination.
March 01, 2007
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It turns the entire celebrity culture of America on its head at a time when it is at its peak. There is no transformation, only disillusionment and violence. That is a radical statement that perhaps could only come from Eszterhas and Verhoeven, two Europeans… This film is very entertaining, and in its own way, very, very subversive.
May 01, 2006
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I first saw “Showgirls” a couple of weeks after it opened, in a sparse midweek evening crowd, and I was convinced I was watching a new camp classic. The movie had a brashness that made it more fun than many better movies, and a ferocious desire to entertain that bad movies seem to have lost.
March 31, 2004
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Surprisingly, Showgirls is extraordinarily complex, and much more difficult to analyze than any of the other "trash" films that I have presumed to be its kinsmen. One aspect that never fails to perplex a virgin audience is its tone: it appears to connote a type of mainstream directness and sincerity.
March 01, 2003
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The film has the strange sense of being an actualité for Berkley’s performance. This performance consistently stands out from the narrative proper: we are aware of watching a former television child actor do her own dance, lap dance, and striptease numbers. But we are also aware of watching her act… We end up with a rupturing of cinema’s sign system: character without characterization, method acting without interiorized motivation, and the blurring of realist and histrionic acting styles.
March 01, 2003
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More than one review excoriates Eszterhas for enjoying the titillation of lesbian sex, when it is precisely the bad-taste glorying in the bitchy role-playing of that titillation that seems to me to be the great fun of the movie. It is very easy to condemn movies that attempt to have trashy fun with sex. But I predict that Showgirls will reemerge one day, like Nomi and Cristal from their papier-mâché volcano, in triumphant glory to gain the praise that it deserves.
March 01, 2003
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Verhoeven and Eszterhas have contrived to celebrate the perfectly genuine attractions (not solely for the male eye, I would suggest) of the sexy Las Vegas revues—and more intimate ceremonies such as lap dancing—only to gradually undermine these representations with an exposure of the ferocious exploitation upon which they are founded.
March 01, 2003
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I must admit that, as with Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers, which I also underrated initially, this 1995 movie has only improved with age—or maybe it’s just that viewers like me are only now catching up with the ideological ramifications of the cartoonlike characters. In this case, the degree to which Las Vegas (and by implication Hollywood) is viewed as the ultimate capitalist machine is an essential part of the poisonous package.
January 01, 2000
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Showgirls is the fireball at the bottom of Paul Verhoeven’s tailspin… Berkley was a good choice to play Nomi. Her large eyes, set wide apart and magnified by a Helmsleyesque surfeit of eye makeup, flank a tiny proto-nose with flareless nostrils. Too unfinished to be beautiful, her face suggests some bizarre sexual pupate, a fortuitous hormonal miscalculation.
January 01, 1996
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Obscene level of incompetence, excessive inanity in the story line, gross negligence of the viewer’s intelligence, a prurient interest in the quick buck.
October 02, 1995
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